Am I the only one exhausted this morning? Don't get me wrong. I had a marvelous Thanksgiving holiday spent with friends and family, but after four days of shopping, cooking (and eating), Christmas decorating, football spectating, and heavy-duty closet cleaning (which included lugging ten trash bags full of old clothes to Salvation Army donation box), I'm thankful to be back to the work-a-day routine and sitting in my comfy office chair, sipping a mug of green tea. Door closed. Alone. Quiet. Far from the maddening crowds.
I never intended to join the crazed and crazy throng of Black Friday shoppers. I suppose I could blame my daughter for my temporary lapse of sanity. She works at a clothing store at the mall and had to be up by 5 a.m. so she could be at her post when the doors opened at 6. Since that's about the time I arise every workday morning, I agreed to make sure she heard her alarm and actually got out of bed. (Kim is a nocturnal creature whose eyes typically refuse to open before noon.) Following a vigorous round of door-pounding and daughter-rousting, I was way too stimulated to go back to sleep. I poured myself a cup of coffee and nestled into the recliner to watch an uninterrupted hour of HGTV, but an advertisement from yesterday's paper caught my eye. My favorite craft store offered rock-bottom prices on a couple items I'd been wanting. . .but the offer came with a caveat. The sale prices applied from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.
Maybe if I get there when they opened, I thought, the crowds won't be too bad.
I'd only heard tell of the chaos of Black Friday until last weekend. Now, I speak as one with authority borne of experience.
I live a mere three miles from this particular store, but the drive took me 30 minutes to accomplish in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. I had to park in the lower-40 lot and hike a couple of miles across the predawn, street-lamp-lit asphalt. When I filed into the front doors, it seemed as though all action went into warp drive. No shopping carts remained unclaimed. A clerk offered me a puny little basket instead, which I promptly declined. I didn't think I could fit a 7.5' tree in that basket, even pre-assembled. I needn't have worried, though. The model of the Christmas tree that had driven me on this quest had already flown off the shelves.
I managed to find the other item on my list--a "portable sewing room" (just a fancy name for a roller bag big enough to fit a sewing machine inside.) Since it came equipped with its own wheels, I was in business. As I swam my way upstream against a current of bargain-grabbing humanity on my way to the checkout stands, I happened to spy an empty shopping cart left untended in the thread aisle. Before the cart's driver returned, I commandeered the buggy, threw my "portable sewing room" into its bowels, then took off in a dead-run for a return trip to the tree aisle.
I refused to make eye contact with the wounded in my wake. Instead, I kept my sights on a lone box--at the bottom of a 5-high box stack--that sported a picture of a tree similar to the one I'd come to buy. All dignity forsaken, I weeded my way to the bottom of the boxed-tree tower to grab the one I wanted, keeping a one-hand death grip on my precious cart at all times. Once I managed to wrestle this bigger-than-me box on top of my "sewing room" and into the cart, I thought, for my own health and safety, not to mention Christian testimony, I'd best exit the store ASAP. I steered blindly toward the front of the store and the check-out registers. Silly me. The trail of paying customers winded all the way to the back door.
Somehow, I navigated to the other end of my cart and managed to pull, rather than push, my purchases to the back of the line. By this point, sweat dripped from my nose and down the small of my back. I shed my jacket and piled it onto the tree box, accidentally bumping into the lady in front of me. I turned to offer my apologies, and this cool, calm, and collected gal about my age replied, "Oh, no problem. I'm used to it by now. We waited in line outside for two hours before they opened the doors." She was empty-handed and cart-less. Before I could gather my wits and assess her reason for being. . .here. . .in line. . . and purchase-less, a teen-aged girl ran up to her and dropped a filled basket at her feet. "Now, where did you say I'd find the glue guns, Mom?" Mom rattled off an answer as I stood in awe. Tag-team shoppers. Pros. I was totally out of my league. By the time I maneuvered my way through the checkout maze and across the sunny parking lot to my car, I knew I'd lived through my one and only Black Friday shopping experience. Next year, I'm keeping company with the football fans in front of the TV!
As with Black Friday shoppers, so it is in the writer world. The task is not for the faint of heart. I could come up with a whole list of correlations, such as: both shoppers and writers should start out with a plan(lists/synopses.) Or, maybe: both shoppers and writers would find their tasks made easier if shared (shopping buddy/critique partners.) Then there's the always apropos advice to be flexible. But I'm too tired for eloquent waxing. I'll let you come up with your own shopper/writer metaphoric advice. Care to share?